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Life and Arts

On the Town: Burbank Temporary Aid Center pivots from gala in time of crisis

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Volunteer Toni Montgomery is a part of the dedicated volunteer staff that is making sure BTAC can run as seamlessly as possible during this time of uncertainty.
(David Laurell)

The plans for this column were to document a festive evening of fundraising at the Castaway during which the Burbank Temporary Aid Center, or BTAC, would honor the Hollywood Burbank Airport and Alyson Westfall, who is a volunteer coordinator for the nonprofit organization.

That fundraiser, which had been scheduled for last Friday, was canceled due to the concerns of the novel coronavirus disease that can lead to COVID-19.

That cancellation, of course, did nothing to cancel the needs of the homeless and those who are in need in our community and rely on the vital services BTAC offers them.

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Steven Schmidt, who has been a BTAC volunteer for three years, is on the job making sure BTAC is ready to serve those in need.
(David Laurell)
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“We are still open and serving our community,” said BTAC staff member Catherine Bourgeois.

“We have had to cut our laundry service, but we are still offering showers, personal hygiene items, and food and lunches, although, as of now, our lunch providers are operating on a day-to-day basis,” Bourgeois added.

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Volunteer Jon Nathan is making sure the shelves of BTAC’s pantry are stocked and ready to meet the needs of their clients.
(David Laurell)

Edward Stapleton, who has been working at BTAC since 2001 as the pantry and facilities manager, supervises the organization’s part-time staff and team of volunteers.

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“Many of our volunteers are seniors who are staying home, which is the right thing for them to do during this time,” said Stapleton.

“But we are operating by implementing new procedures. We only allow three clients into the facility at a time and maintain a six-foot perimeter between them and any staff member they interact with. We are all wearing gloves and not touching items we normally would such as IDs or paperwork,” Stapleton explained.

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Catherine Bourgeois of BTAC says that by implementing various safety precautions the organization is up and ready to serve the needs of clients.
(David Laurell)

Both Stapleton and Bourgeois said they are relying on guidance from the L.A. Food Bank and various government and health agencies for guidelines in how to operate during this time of quarantine, and plan on staying open unless otherwise directed by the county or city.

“We will definitely be seeing a higher demand due to business closures, which will have an impact on those who need our services and also on our operation,” said Stapleton. “But, everyone here is dedicated to our mission, and we are all adapting rapidly to the shifts in operation and making whatever changes need to be made very quickly to serve those who need us.”

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It is business as usual, albeit with a precautionary shift in operations, for longtime BTAC volunteer Bunny Vitale and Edward Stapleton who oversees the pantry and facilities.
(David Laurell)

Founded in 1974 by the Burbank Ministerial Assn. and the Burbank Coordinating Council, BTAC has served as a centralized source of services for the homeless, the less fortunate and those in financial and employment transition in the community.

The Burbank Temporary Aid Center has tentatively rescheduled their fundraiser at the Castaway for June 12. That event is of vital importance to the organization’s fundraising efforts which financially helps them serve more than 9,000 people annually, providing food, utility payments, laundry and shower facilities, financial assistance, job placement and case-management help.

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If you or someone you know is in need of BTAC’s services, or if you would like to volunteer, call (818) 848-2822.

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